NACA gets $2M grant for New Mexico schools

The Native American Community Academy Foundation was awarded a multi-year grant worth about $2 million to support and develop schools

Joshua Kellogg
Teacher Celeste Yazzie talks to her students on Wednesday at Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock.

FARMINGTON — A New Mexico-based Native American educational network was recently awarded a multi-year grant worth more than $2 million to support three schools, including a Shiprock charter school.

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Sept. 25 that the Native American Community Academy Foundation in Albuquerque was one of 12 recipients of more than $5.3 million in grants as part of the Native Youth Community Projects program.

The Native American Community Academy runs the NACA-Inspired School Network, which was founded last year to support schools in Native American communities in New Mexico. Right now, the network consists of three charter schools —  Native American Community Academy, Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock and the Dzil Dit L’ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance in Navajo.

Kara Bobroff, NACA executive director, said the foundation was honored to receive the grant.

NACA was awarded $473,000 for the first year, and about $523,000 can be awarded for three additional years, if certain objectives outlined in the grant are met. Bobroff said the organization will work with staff at the schools in its network to meet those objectives and improve the schools.

“I think a lot of the conversations were around, ‘What are the needs of our community?’” Bobroff said. “The things we can support around curriculum and instruction and professional development.”

First grader Kierra Todachinnie works on math problems on Wednesday at Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock.

Gavin Sosa, Dream Diné director of operations, said NACA has helped the Shiprock school establish policies and develop the curriculum, as well as providing a $25,000 support grant last year. Sosa said the organization reviewed the school’s charter before it was filed with the New Mexico Public Education Department and provided advice on developing policies for the school’s governing board.

Bobroff said employees travel to Shiprock about every other week to work with teachers at Dream Diné on curriculum and policies.

“When it comes to curriculum and instruction, we’ve had support,” Sosa said.

No formal talks have taken place with Dream Diné  staff about how the grant will affect the school, but Sosa said officials plan to meet with Bobroff soon to discuss future plans.

Sosa said he hopes to discuss facility and infrastructure improvements as the school’s enrollment has more than doubled from the last school year, growing from 15 to 33 students in kindergarten through second grade.

Bobroff said the grant will also help develop two new charter schools: the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics Academy serving the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos and Six Directions Indigenous School in Gallup.

She said the organization is working with the Kha-p'o Academy in the Santa Clara Pueblo, which is in the process of transitioning the Santa Clara Day School from a Bureau of Indian Education-operated school to a pueblo-controlled grant school.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

Teacher Tonniale Clichee works with her students on Wednesday at Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock.